BusinessObjects Board Sponsor InformationI. Introduction | II. What is BOB? | III. Growth and Member Statistics
IV. Why Sponsors? | V. Sponsor Features | VI. Becoming A Sponsor
IV. Why Sponsors?
In 2002 we selected the software and set up the web site. For the first year we were hosted on a shared server account, meaning that we were one of hundreds of web sites on that server. We were limited to 20GB of monthly bandwidth. The hosting contract was $20 per month, which we paid for by selling "Ask Me About BOB!" T-shirts at the international user conference.
There are no costs related to software as everything we use is licensed under the GPL. We run Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and forum software from the phpBB Group. We do not anticipate changing this platform. More details on this are available on the forum in this topic:
Based on growth during our initial year we moved to a dedicated server in September of 2003. This enabled more tuning of the web server and the database. We covered about 70% of the cost of this server by selling T-shirts; the remainder was paid by a few other domains hosted on the same server.
Current Server Activity Levels
As detailed in the previous section of this document we have grown to 80,477 active members and have delivering 3,196,166 page views over the past 30 days. During that same timeframe we have averaged 325.20 users online, with a peak of 1,406.00. These statistics are based on data captured every ten minutes.
One of the most frequent activities on BOB is searching. Searching our database of over 916,496 posts is a CPU-intensive process. One person searching can use up to 50% of a CPU, depending on the search parameters. Our testing has shown that a worst-case search can spike CPU usage to 65% or more.
We need to have absolute control over the configuration of the server and database. For this reason, we considered two options. We could have contracted for a dedicated server, or we could have purchased our own hardware and paid for co-location hosting costs. We elected to lease a server rather than purchasing hardware at this time. Our current hardware has proven to be more than enough to carry our typical load. Our hosting company has proved to be very reliable. Our uptime has run at essentially 100% with occasional instances of downtime for server upgrades and maintenance. We do not anticipate any degradation in this area.
Because of the costs associated with maintaining and upgrading this server, we started looking for alternate ways to fund the site. T-shirts were fine when our total hosting cost for the year were around $200. Once our monthly costs approached the same level it because obvious that we needed to take a different approach. We investigated several options, including Amazon.com's affiliate program as well as Google's Adsense program.
In January of 2004, we joined the Amazon.com associates program. That allowed us to list BusinessObjects related books on BOB and receive a small commission from sales through the site. While it is helpful, we will not be able to support our expected growth with t-shirts and book commissions alone.
In April of 2005 we joined the Adsense program offered by Google. It allowed us to display text-only advertisements at the very bottom of specific pages on our site. The revenues from the Adsense program have varied widely and as a result cannot be counted upon to consistently cover the costs of running the site. We may continue / discontinue our participation in this program at any time with or without notice.
It is entirely possible that the Google advertisements may display ads for your competitors. While we do have the ability to filter competitive ads we do not intend to block regular advertisements that appear via the Google Adsense program.
What About Individual Contributions?
Why are we asking for sponsors instead of taking individual contributions? It is not uncommon to see forums that have a PayPal Donate button to allow individual members to contribute towards hosting or other costs. As mentioned earlier, we have had 4,120 members visit within the past six weeks. If only ten percent (10%) of those visitors could be counted on to donate $10 per year ($4,120.00) we could potentially cover all of the costs we expect to incur.
Unfortunately, we feel that the expenses that we are faced with require a more reliable and consistent cash flow. It will be more effective to have 10-12 company sponsors during the year than trying to manage over a thousand individual contributors. We feel very strongly that we need a regular source of funds to cover server expansion, hosting costs, and other expenses related to running this site. For these reasons we started the sponsorship program.
Should you elect to become a sponsor, what are the benefits that you can expect? Those details are provided in Section V of this document.